Dads Share Their Mental Health Experiences As NHS Offers Fathers More Support
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Dads have been sharing stories of their struggles with mental health in response to the NHS announcing plans to offer more new and expectant fathers mental health support as a part of radical action to help families.
Mental health checks and treatment will become more frequent in a bid to help more struggling dads.
Around one in ten men experience mental health issues within the first six months of having a baby.
The number of men who become depressed in the first year after becoming a dad is double that of those in the general population, and first-time dads are particularly vulnerable.
Announcing the news, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: "At what should be one of the happiest moments of our lives, caring for a partner suffering mental ill health when a new baby arrives is a difficult and often lonely experience.
"Alongside the backup and friendship of other new parents in NCT (National Childbirth Trust) and other groups, the NHS has a role to play in helping support the whole family.
"These days dads and partners are rightly expected to be more hands on and NHS mental health services also need to step up and support families at times of extreme stress and anxiety."
The step up in support means that men with pregnant partners and those with partners who are suffering from anxiety, depression or more severe disorders are automatically offered a comprehensive mental health assessment.
If needed, they will then be directed to the best professional support for them.
The news led to plenty of dads sharing their own experiences on social media.
One user wrote: "When my partner was pregnant with our second I lost my job through disability and fell into deep depression.
"I felt useless as I couldn't provide for my family and I shut myself away from everyone. The only thing that kept me going was my partner and my kids, as I didn't receive any help until I pushed my GP to refer me to counselling.
"A lot of men find it hard to admit that they need help, either through pride or just thinking they can deal with it on their own but you're not alone guys."
A mum added: "My ex suffered post natal depression that's why we split. And it's social attitudes that made him deal with it in the wrong way rather than asking for help."
Support and treatment for new and expectant mothers is also being improved by the NHS.
By April 2019, specialist community perinatal mental health teams, which will include nurses, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nursery nurses, peer support workers and administrative staff, will have been set up round the whole of the country.
They will offer evidence-based psychiatric and psychological assessments and help give treatment to women with moderate to severe mental health problems during the perinatal period.
Dr Giles Berrisford, associate national clinical director for perinatal mental health for NHS England, said: "Mental illnesses are cruel and they seem doubly cruel when they affect parents making that transition into family life.
"The expansion of perinatal mental health services with specialised community and inpatient beds helps to ensure mums with severe perinatal mental illnesses receive the help they need, when they need it.
"It is essential to support those people who care for these mums the most: their partners. This targeted support will help to achieve this."
For more help and support surrounding mental health, visit Mind.